Observed Relationships Between Sudden Stratospheric Warmings and European Climate Extremes
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Observed Relationships Between Sudden Stratospheric Warmings and European Climate Extremes
  • Published Date:

    2019

  • Source:
    Journal of Geophysical Research: Atmospheres, 124(24)
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Observed Relationships Between Sudden Stratospheric Warmings and European Climate Extremes
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  • Description:
    Sudden stratospheric warmings (SSWs) have been linked with anomalously cold temperatures at the surface in the middle to high latitudes of the Northern Hemisphere as climatological westerly winds in the stratosphere tend to weaken and turn easterly. However, previous studies have largely relied on reanalyses and model simulations to infer the role of SSWs on surface climate and SSW relationships with extremes have not been fully analyzed. Here, we use observed daily gridded temperature and precipitation data over Europe to comprehensively examine the response of climate extremes to the occurrence of SSWs. We show that for much of Scandinavia, winters with SSWs are on average at least 1 °C cooler, but the coldest day and night of winter is on average at least 2 °C colder than in non-SSW winters. Anomalously high pressure over Scandinavia reduces precipitation on the northern Atlantic coast but increases overall rainfall and the number of wet days in southern Europe. In the 60 days after SSWs, cold extremes are more intense over Scandinavia with anomalously high pressure and drier conditions prevailing. Over southern Europe there is a tendency toward lower pressure, increased precipitation and more wet days. The surface response in cold temperature extremes over northwest Europe to the 2018 SSW was stronger than observed for any SSW during 1979–2016. Our analysis shows that SSWs have an effect not only on mean climate but also extremes over much of Europe. Only with carefully designed analyses are the relationships between SSWs and climate means and extremes detectable above synoptic-scale variability.
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